New Music Reviews (05/23)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJ Alex) shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases for KEXP's rotation. These reviews help our DJs decide on what they want to play. See what we added this week below (and on our Charts page), including new releases from Porridge Radio, Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Craig Finn, and more.

Porridge Radio – Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky (Secretly Canadian)
The third album from this British band led by Dana Margolin is a potent set of emotive post-punk combining guitars, synths, piano, horns, strings and more with Margolin’s volatile vocals and anxiety-fueled lyrics of heartache, frustration and mortality. — DY

Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad – Jazz Is Dead 011 (Jazz Is Dead)
The 11th volume in this LA-based duo’s Jazz Is Dead series is an impressive set of groove-driven jazz ranging from cosmic jazz-funk to Afrobeat and Latin Jazz. The album’s impressive guest lineup includes Tony Allen, Lonnie Liston Smith and Jean Carne. — DY

Craig Finn – A Legacy of Rental (Positive Jams/Thirty Tigers)
The fifth solo album from the frontman for The Hold Steady is a sharply crafted set of story songs that features a fuller cinematic sound this time around, combining a variety of guitars, keyboards, strings, horns, percussion and occasional harmonies from Cassandra Jenkins and Annie Nero with Finn’s sometimes sung, sometimes spoken vocals and often-poignant lyrics of struggling folks living on the margins of society. — DY

Weird Nightmare – Weird Nightmare (Sub Pop)
The debut Weird Nightmare album from METZ guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins is a hook-filled set blown-out power-pop with distorted guitars, punchy rhythms and bright pop melodies. Chad VanGaalen and Bully’s Alicia Bognanno make special guest appearances. — DY

Cola – Deep in View (Fire Talk)
The debut album from this Montreal/Toronto trio comprised of former Ought members Tim Darcy and Ben Stidworthy along with drummer Evan Cartwright (U.S. Girls, The Weather Station) is a potent set of streamlined post-punk with jagged guitar lines, knotty rhythms, wry vocals and lyrics of alienation, overconsumption and online saturation. — DY

Ben Marc – Glass Effect (Innovative Leisure)
The debut full-length album from this London-based musician is an intoxicating set of expansive jazz heavily infused with hip-hop, trip-hop, and grime styles that's reminiscent at times of the dimly-lit UK-steeped sounds of Kamaal Williams, Bonobo, Alfa Mist, and The Cinematic Orchestra. — AR

SOAK – If I Never Know You Like This Again (Rough Trade)
The third album from this Northern Ireland artist (aka Bridie Monds-Watson) features a more fully produced sound along with using a live band for the first time. The end result is an impressive set of streamlined, bittersweet indie-pop with fuzzy electric and occasional acoustic guitars, atmospheric keyboards, often-driving rhythms and lyrics of yearning, connection and identity. — DY

Banditos – Right On (Egghunt)
This Nashville-via-Birmingham, AL band’s third album is a well-crafted blend of roots-rock, soul and other styles, with a warm sound combining guitars, keyboards, occasional banjo and other instrumentation with Mary Beth Richardson’s powerhouse vocals and lyrics of struggle and resilience. — DY

Jean Carne, Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad – Jean Carne JID012 (Jazz Is Dead)
The 12th volume in Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s Jazz Is Dead series features the veteran jazz and R&B vocalist Jean Carne on an expansive set of psych-tinged jazz-funk, spiritual jazz and other styles, highlighted by her remarkable, wide-ranging vocals. — DY

Flume – Palaces (Future Classic)
This LA-based Australian producer/musician’s third album ranges from widescreen, dance-friendly electro-pop to glitchy, distorted hyper pop and atmospheric ambient-pop. Most of the songs feature guest vocalists, including Caroline Polachek, Damon Albarn and Emma Louise. — DY

Jembaa Groove – Susuma (Agogo)
Jembaa Groove is a Berlin-based collaborative project between Ghana-born percussionist/vocalist Eric Owusu and Germany-born bassist/composer Yannick Nolting. Their debut album is a groovy blend of traditional West African and highlife rhythms infused with classic jazz and soul touchpoints that's all complemented beautifully by Owusu's vocals. — AR

Black Star – No Fear Of Time (self-released)
Nearly 24 years after dropping their classic debut album as Black Star, influential rappers Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) and Talib Kweli deliver their long-awaited second album. Enlisting Madlib as the album's sole producer, No Fear Of Time doesn't live up to the impossibly lofty expectations, but it provides a solid platform for three legendary hip-hop artists to showcase their talents in close proximity, even if that platform is currently only the podcasting platform Luminary. — AR

Lyle Lovett – 12th of June (Verve)
This veteran Texas artist’s 12th studio album (and first in 10 years) is a well-crafted blend of country, swing jazz, jump blues and other styles. The album features a few vintage covers (with Francine Reed duetting on three of them) along with seven originals revolving around family and domestic life. — DY

Mavis Staples & Levon Helm – Carry Me Home (ANTI-)
The legendary soul singer recorded this live album with the late drummer for The Band way back in 2011 at Helm’s barn and studio in Woodstock, NY for one of his famed Midnight Ramble shows. The album features Mavis on lead vocals with accompaniment by members of both her and Levon’s bands on an often-stirring set of gospel, blues, soul and jazz. — DY

Carla Geneve – Learn To Like It (Dot Dash Recordings)
The debut full-length album from this Australian musician raised in the small Southwestern coastal town of Albany and currently based in Perth is a riveting set of evocative indie rock steeped in 90s' alt-rock touchstones. With vivid, candid, and brutally honest lyrics revolving around the power and pitfalls of relationships and booze, Carla's earnest style, dynamic backdrops, and expressive guitar touch upon grunge, slacker rock, and guitar-pop in impressive fashion. — AR

Primer – Incubator (Egghunt)
The second album from Los Angeles-based vocalist/producer Alyssa Midcalf (aka Primer) is a strong set of propulsive synth-pop that blends bright synths, kinetic tempos, soaring vocals, and urgent lyrics in a fashion that contains shades of CHVRCHES, Caroline Polachek, and Robyn. — AR

John Doe – Fables in a Foreign Land (Yep Roc)
The latest solo album from this Austin-based, X co-founder is a concept album set in the 1890s, combining a spare, often acoustic-oriented sound ranging from dark folk-rock and country-steeped folk to driving, roots-tinged rock with often-dark lyrics revolving around hardship and desolation. — DY

Rosa Brunello – Sounds Like Freedom (Domanda)
On her latest album, this Italian bassist is joined by British trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, Italian drummer Marco Frattini and Arabic experimental music pioneer Maurice Louca on guitar and keyboards for a beautifully crafted set of improvisational jazz with hypnotic rhythms and atmospheric textures. — DY

David Knudson – The Only Thing You Have to Change is Everything (Seawall)
The debut solo album from the former guitarist for Seattle band Minus the Bear is a solid set ranging from psych-tinged prog-rock to atmospheric dream-pop, combining intricate, effects-laden guitars with shimmering synths and a variety of guest vocalists. — DY

Charlie Hickey – Nervous at Night (Saddest Factory)
This LA artist’s debut album is a well-crafted set of reflective folk-pop with an often-lowkey sound featuring melancholy melodies, plaintive vocals and anxiety-fueled lyrics of navigating the struggles of young adulthood and seeking connection. — DY

Mallrat – Butterfly Blue (Nettwerk)
The debut full-length from this Australian artist (aka Grace Shaw) is a fine set of atmospheric dream-pop along with some acoustic-oriented folk-pop with fuzzy electric and delicate acoustic guitars, shimmering keyboards, gentle rhythms, bittersweet melodies and lyrics of love and desire. — DY

Nick Sheppard & Marigold Sun – Pratunam EP (Hush Hush)
Perth, Australia-based British musician (and former guitarist for British punk band The Cortinas) Nick Sheppard collaborated with New York-based Singaporean/Australian musician Eric Li Harrison (aka Marigold Sun) for this evocative EP of atmospheric post-rock, combining warm and breezy guitar improvisations from Sheppard with laid-back, Balearic-tinged beats. — DY

Steve Monite – Only You (Soundway Recordings)
Soundway Recordings officially reissues the highly sought-after 1984 debut album Only You by Nigeria-born, London-raised musician Steve Monite. The album's genesis began after his self-funded recording sessions in London failed to secure him a label home in the UK, so he traveled back to Nigeria and was immediately signed to EMI Records in Nigeria to record tracks with renowned Cameroonian producer Nkono Teles. Fueled by Teles' fascination with electronics after soaking in the disco scene on a visit to NYC, Only You is one of the first African records to feature the Moog synthesizer and explore a spacey "electro-funk" sound. Quietly released without much fanfare, success, or label support from EMI, Only You sadly marked Steve's only release. Over 30 years later, his music has taken on a new life. "Only You" appeared on Soundway's 2016 compilation Doing It In Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980s Nigeria, the song was then famously covered by Frank Ocean at the 2017 FYF Fest, and then a year later Theophilus London and Tame Impala joined forces to record an official cover of the song, propelling the artist's name into conversation amongst a new legion of music fans. While the title track is still an unmissable highlight, there's other standout cuts to be found on this long-deserved reissue of Only You. — AR

Jo Schornikow – Altar (Keeled Scales)
The third album from this Australian-born, Nashville-based artist (and Phosphorescent keyboardist) is a well-crafted set ranging from sparkling, synth-streaked indie-pop to shimmering dream-pop and wistful folk-pop. — DY

Grant-Lee Phillips – All That You Can Dream (Yep Roc)
This veteran Nashville-based musician’s latest solo album is a solid set of mostly lowkey folk-pop combining a mostly spare, acoustic-oriented sound with lyrics revolving around the fragility of life during these uncertain times. — DY

Inkswel & The Snaglepuss – Chasing Infinity (Cosmocities)
The latest album from Adelaide-based Australian DJ/producer Inkswel (aka Jules Habib) is a slick set of genre-hopping grooves that cruise through hip-hop, spaced-out G-funk, digital dub, R&B, broken-beat, boogie, and house styles with a charismatic flow. Talib Kweli, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Amp Fiddler, Steve Spacek, Declaime, Kaidi Tatham, Kylie Auldist, and more make guest appearances. — AR

Prins Thomas – 8 / 9 (Full Pupp)
Released digitally in quick succession and released jointly for its CD release, the two latest full-length albums from renowned Norwegian producer Prins Thomas offer more of the lush, textured, and blissed-out cosmic disco grooves and exploratory Krautrock touches that he's been perfecting for over 15 years now. John Carroll Kirby makes a guest appearance on each album, while Bugge Wesseltoft appears on the standout cut "Sunroof Down." — AR

Braly Sangster – Permanent Wave (self-released)
The debut album from this Seattle duo comprised of producer/guitarist Johnny Sangster and musician/songwriter Leslie Braly is a well-crafted set ranging from jangly power-pop to wistful folk-pop. — DY

MJ Nebreda – Sin Pensar EP (GODMODE)
The debut EP from this Miami-based vocalist/producer is an excellent set of addictive vocal-laced club-pop that pairs her magnetic vocals and lyrics sung in Spanish with sleek house grooves. Growing up between Caracas, London and Santo Domingo, MJ Nebreda's genre-blurring music blends Scandinavian-style space-disco and lush house beats with highlife and traditional Latin rhythms for an undeniably fresh sound. Sin Pensar offers up yet another stellar debut from the sharp ears at GODMODE, the Los Angeles label that has introduced the likes of Yaeji, Channel Tres, and Shamir to a larger audience. — AR

Léa Sen – You of Now Pt. 1 EP (Partisan)
This French-born, London-based artist’s debut EP is a well-crafted set of often-spare, electronic-tinged folk-pop combining acoustic and atmospheric electric guitars, shimmering synths and hypnotic rhythms with her ethereal vocals, introspective lyrics and haunting melodies. — DY

Related News & Reviews

Album Reviews

New Music Reviews (05/16)

Each week, Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJ Michele Myers) shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases for KEXP's rotation.

Read More
Album Reviews

New Music Reviews (05/09)

Each week, Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by Morning Show Producer Owen Murphy) shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases for KEXP's rotation.

Read More
Album Reviews

New Music Reviews (05/02)

Each week, Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJ Alex) shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases for KEXP's rotation.

Read More